"We’re here! We’re everywhere," say Toronto GLBT seniors|
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At a forum entitled "Golden years of pride: making the invisible visible," the
Senior Pride Network launched a new poster that celebrates the contributions
and the diversity of older gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people
across Toronto. The poster sends the message that "We’re here! We’re
These full-colour posters, which depict older GLBT persons with a wide variety
of life experiences, will be distributed to organizations across the city that
are looking to become gay positive, or that already welcome and celebrate older
GLBT persons. Funds to cover the printing were raised by Jack Harmer, who held
a swimathon to celebrate his 65th birthday. More than 200 laps later, the funds
were in place to make the poster possible. The poster was designed by Gary
Leroux, who volunteered his time and talent, as did photographer Jennifer
Lafontaine, who also recruited a group of older GLBT volunteer photographers.
The "Golden years of pride" event also offered some poignant insights into
older GLBT persons’ hopes and dreams of an inclusive community that includes
the services they need, and what individuals and organizations can do to make
this happen. Participants learned about many initiatives currently underway to
enhance services for this community. Examples presented include the Older GLBT
Program at The 519 Church Street Community Centre, which co-ordinates the
Senior Pride Network as well as a number of programs and workshops for older
participants, and various organizations targeted to older GLBT persons,
including the Prime Timers, 5O Plus Toronto and WRIB.
Also of note are a supportive housing complex under development by WoodGreen
Community Centre and Fife House, and some major developments in long-term care.
Toronto Homes for the Aged is setting up a cluster of rooms targeted to GLBT
seniors in two of its locations, Fudger House and Kipling Acres. "These
developments in long-term care are revolutionary and profound," said Dick
Moore, Coordinator of the Older GLBT Program at The 519. "Although there are
gay-friendly retirement homes in the US and Holland, these are the only
publicly-subsidized beds that I am aware of in Europe or North America. Members
of the Senior Pride Network have worked with both homes providing training for
staff, and we’ll continue to build this important partnership."
"These new services in our homes for the aged are truly something to
celebrate," said Toronto Councillor Kyle Rae, Ward 27 Toronto Centre-Rosedale.
"We talk a lot about inclusiveness, and welcoming diversity, and this is a
concrete example of how we step beyond the talk. Our goal continues to be to
create a city where services and programs are available - and provide a warm
welcome - to anyone who needs them."
The Senior Pride Network is also in discussions with other long-term care
providers about recruiting and training staff to work with GLBT residents, and
is working on many other fronts to promote and enhance services for elder GLBT
persons. Adds Moore, "I want to encourage each of you to take action where you
can to continue these positive developments. As individuals you can become
allies to older GLBT people by speaking up with and for them, by challenging
anti-gay, ageist jokes and stories told in your presence or seen in the media.
Talk to GLBT friends about their experiences as a way of better understanding
our cultures. Take action. The future is ours to mould."
The Senior Pride Network, coordinated by The 519 Church Street Community
Centre, is a collective of organizations that are working together to provide a
co-ordinated vision of services for GLBT seniors. Its members, which range from
hospitals to community centres, work to promote and celebrate GLBT seniors, and
to ensure that this community gets the supports and services that all seniors
need to enjoy the highest quality of life.
Dick Moore, Coordinator, Older GLBT Program, The 519 Church Street Community
Centre, 416-392-6878, ext. 118
Rosemary Bennett, Manager, Communication, Toronto Community and Neighbourhood
Services, 416-392-8386, 416-328-4402 (pager)
Councillor Kyle Rae, Ward 27 Toronto Centre-Rosedale, 416-392-7903